DOHA, Qatar - Caroline Wozniacki seemed unstoppable in the Middle East - that is, until she faced Vera Zvonareva. After back-to-back nail-biters in the quarterfinals and semifinals, Zvonareva saved her best for last, stunning the No.1-ranked Wozniacki in straight sets in the final of the Qatar Ladies Open.
Although she was seeded No.2, Zvonareva was flying under the radar somewhat, with No.1 seed Wozniacki having won Dubai last week and making the final of Doha this week without losing a set. And after rallying from 3-5 in the third to get past Daniela Hantuchova in the quarters and scoring another three set win over Jelena Jankovic in the semis, some questioned if she had any gas left.
She did. Zvonareva broke for a 2-1 lead and didn't let go of her serve until she won the first set; she then took six of eight games from 2-4 in the second set to prevail, 64 64. It was her third win over a reigning No.1, first in straight sets.
"Caroline is No.1 and playing very well. I was just fighting for every point and trying to go for my shots," said Zvonareva, who had 30 winners in the match. "This is definitely a special moment for me, especially after that tough match against Daniela and another great one against Jelena. I have so many fans here it's unbelievable. Because of them I was able to come through this week."
Zvonareva had surprise losses in her last two tournaments, falling to Hantuchova in the semifinals of Pattaya City and to Alisa Kleybanova in the third round of Dubai. But she rebounded in a big way in Doha. "Coming into this tournament I wasn't expecting to end my week like this. It's great," the Russian added. "Congratulations to Caroline, though. She's a great player and a great fighter. I'm sure we'll have a lot of good matches. This has been an unbelievable event."
Zvonareva picked up her 11th WTA title, but more importantly her first in over a year (her last title came at Pattaya City, a year and two weeks ago).
Wozniacki's winning WTA finals record was cut down to 13-9. "I'm always disappointed to lose but I played a great competitor today," said Wozniacki, now 4-4 lifetime against Zvonareva. "Vera played a great match and a great tournament. I'm happy to be in the finals; it was another great tournament for me and I always enjoy being back in Doha. I will be back next year for sure."